Whether the Cubs close with Angel Guzman or Angels in the Outfield, they need to get out of San Diego with a series win if they want to keep their pennant race intact as they near September.
Because this week is already starting to take on a look of that 1-6 Colorado-Phillies stretch last week that dumped the Cubs from first place to the fringe-contender neighborhood of the National League.
``That wasn't a good week of baseball,'' manager Lou Piniella said Monday - before Kevin Gregg turned a 1-0 game into a 4-1 loss in the ninth at PETCO Park. ``We can't afford another week like that.''
If they go south again in San Diego, the only worm that turns for these guys might be the one at the bottom of a bottle in Tijuana. And Gregg started the bus heading the wrong way.
The Cubs are six games out of first for the first time since July 2, 2007.
Winning on the road already has been a problem (25-34) - much less in San Diego (0-4, with four runs total).
Consider that this seven-game trip ends with four in Los Angeles against the NL-best Dodgers, and it doesn't look pretty.
``Seventeen out of  games on the road in August is not the easiest thing in the world,'' Piniella said. ``And five days in Denver, too much. That altitude's so high. It takes it out of you after you've been there three or four days.
``And then we get back home at 4 in the morning from there to play the Phillies, and we lost a tough game and then they beat us up the next two days. But, look, the bottom line is, no, we'd like to stay more consistent.''
If they can survive this trip still in sight of first-place St. Louis, they might have a decent chance of resurrecting their playoff race.
Nine straight games after that - and 22 of 23 - are against teams that currently have losing records. The Cubs are 41-23 against those teams, even after Monday's crash in San Diego.